GR 38: Wine and Fish Route
The GR 38, as is to be expected from its name, runs along old muleteer routes between the Alava part of La Rioja and the ports of the Cantabrian Sea.El Rioja-Avala wine has given rise, for years gone by, to one of the most prosperous trades.
The town of Laguardia constituted one of the most important milestones of this trade, with its main point of sale and distribution in Vitoria/Gasteiz, a historic crossroads.One of the most notable destination, in the region of Vizcaya, was the Town of Durango, where goods were exchanged by the muleteers who left wine and, among other products, loaded fish in brine, mostly from the prosperous port of Bermeo.
In the future this will be the end point of the route once the stretch through this region has been completed by the Vizcaya Mountaineering Federation.
The GR 38 crosses Álava from south to north, showing hikers a complete mosaic of contrasting landscapes: from the vineyards of La Rioja-Alava, clearly Mediterranean, to the rolling green farmland of Cantabria.There are many spots of natural interests along the route: close to Laguardia, the saltwater lagoons of Carravalseca and Carralogroño, and the El Prao dam, the austere mountainous kermes oak groves on the southern slopes of the Sierra of Toloño, in strong contrast with the damp and exhuberant beech tree groves with boxwood on its northern slope and those of the Jaunden Mountain, the idyllic defile of the river Ayuda, of great natural richness, as it passes between Sáseta and Oquina, the rich and varied forests of the Vitoria Mountains, that will surprise anyone entering them.Finally, the extensive panoramic views of the Llanada Alavesa plain, together with those of the reservoirs of Ullíbarri, Urrunaga and Albina will accompany you as you cross over to the Atlantic valleys that, through large beech tree groves and between rolling green meadows, lead to Otxandio.
As indicated previously, however, the historic importance of this route is relevant.It begins in the interesting locality of Oyón and, after passing the Roman bridge of Mantible in Assa, reaches the historic walled town of Laguardia, around which is the most important group of dolmens in the Basque Country in what was the ancient Sonsierra Navarra and the extremely interesting Iron Age settlement of La Hoya. El Puerto del Toro was one of the most important and ancient places of passage to cross the Sierra of Toloño, defended during the reconquista by a fort.In the region of Treviño (Burgos) are the artificial caves of Laño, ancient monasteries of Visigoth hermits that form the most complex site of the so-called Basque Cappadocia. The Sanctuary of Estíbaliz, on the open Llanada plain, is a jewel of the Romanesque period.At the end of the route is Otxandio, an old iron town with a splendorous past.
Departure point: Oyón
Arrival point: Otxandio
Distance (km): 105
No. of stages: 8
Oyón - Laguardia - Lagrán - Albaina - Oquina - Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Estíbaliz - Mendibil - Legutiano - Otxandio.
You can stay overnight in: Oyón, Assa, Laguardia, Albaina, Estíbaliz, Mendibil, Legutiano and Otxandio. Supplies in: Oyón, Assa, Laguardia, Lagrán, Albaina, Oquina, Andollu, Estíbaliz, Mendibil, Urbina, Legutiano and Otxandio. Transport: Regular bus service in Oyón, Assa, Laguardia, Lagrán (during the week), Albaina (during the week), Andollu, Oreitia, Arbulo, Mendibil, Urbina, Legutiano, Otxandio. Railway in Oreitia.